A Date With a Gun…
A heist goes wrong, with one of the robbers hiding out at a swimming pool where he meets a young lady. He walks her home and meets her family, then he inadvertently confesses to the crime…
He Ran All the Way (1951) – John Garfield Shelley Winters film noir trailer, Chloroform and Silver Nitrate, http://www.youtube.com
With a film ending that will shock you to your very core, He Ran All the Way (1951) has an opening soundtrack leads you into the movie with a very dramatic title score. The music setting the scene for this compelling film noir movie. It stars as leads John Garfield, in his last movie and Shelley Winters, long before she joined Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine in a favourite Christmas themed disaster movie, The Poseidon Adventure (1972). I later saw her in Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita (1962) opposite James Mason. However this film review belongs to her co-star and leading man, John Garfield who almost steals the show with the complex lead character, Nick Robey.
The opening of the film introduces us to the unemployed Nick Robey (John Garfield), in the opening scene he’s in bed shouting in his sleep whilst having a nightmare. His mother (Gladys George) enters unconcerned and after the pair cross words and it appears there is no love between them. After he dresses – moving his clothes to reveal a gun – and leaves, he meets a friend Al (Norman Lloyd). Al suggests they carry out their plan to steal 10 thousand dollars in a hold up job for a company’s pay roll money, however Nick is nervous. The pair then head to carry this heist out. Nick knocks out the security guard and the pair steal the briefcase with the money. The plan goes awry as a policeman enters the scene, so the pair make a run for it. Al is shot and wounded. Nick on his departure with the money is shot at by this policeman, but the bullets miss him. Nick turns and shoots the policeman wounding him badly. And he runs. And runs. And runs.
Nick then tries to blend in with a crowd. He hides out in a swimming pool – as you do – where he literally bumps into a young lady, Peggy Dobbs (Winters). The pair flirt and he asks to walk her home, but after gripping her arm Peggy becomes fearful of him. But Nick wins her over with an apology. After taking her home, Nick finds she lives with her parents and young brother Tommy. He’s introduced to her family before the family leave for a cinema trip. After they leave, Peggy and Nick continue to flirt with a few moments where they almost kiss. However after her family return he becomes fearful, unintentionally confessing his part in the crime to the stunned Dobbs family. Turning a gun on the family, he decides stay there to lie low and avoid the police. He stipulates he will hold one of the family hostage as the others carry on their daily life, but if they report the situation to the police that family member will be killed.
In addition to the concern of her parents, there appears to be a growing attraction between Peggy for Nick, However, it is unclear up to and including the final scenes if she loves him or is scared and trying to protect her family. Her parents however are concerned about her feelings, and this multiplies as Nick appears to become more and more unpredictable which is increasingly evident after he learns the policeman he shot has died. His anxiety and paranoia grows believing every police siren, knock on the door and silence is a bad sign. He loses his temper more easily, but yet at times he can be caring and rational. This erratic behaviour appears confuse Peggy now almost appearing like she has been betrayed by this nice man she met at the swimming. Later in the film Nick falls for her, and hopes to leave with her for a new life, with her apparently arranging a car so the pair can leave together…
This film as an introduction to the work of John Garfield was a wonderful introduction to this captivating and gifted actor, He portrayed Nick’s unpredictable behaviour to frightening effect. He conveyed many, many contrasting emotions throughout the movie and scene by scene in this complex character. Garfield’s performance drew you in from the start, as at first you felt sorry for this character, then grew to almost like him a little after the initial lovely scenes with Peggy on their meeting to his becoming a quite horrifying man especially when his temper came to the fore.
As the film continued his mood often changed rapidly even within scenes as he became more and more erratic, more frantic to paranoia. His facial expressions, stance and voice tone changing as often as the weather he became more and more unstable, not trusting anyone and misinterpreting Peggy’s motives for helping him. After his feelings change for Peggy after the pair shared some passionate kisses, there is desire and passion in his voice. This was in contrast to his later, decreasing trust issues with Peggy which made him a fearful and chilling character, with an excellent nail-biting final scenes as the full extent of his distrust materialised.
With the plot, you almost felt that you are on hostage with the family as you experience Nick’s stay with them in such detail. Winters particularly showed attraction to love, betrayal to confusion to fear, however Garfield’s Ropey was oblivious to this caught up in his own plight. Peggy’s parents – wonderfully played by Wallace Ford and Selena Royle – were full of concern for their daughter and her feelings for Nick, and hatred then later ambivalence for Nick. It was in contrast to her child’s point of view with Tommy (Robert Hyatt) thinking Nick’s crime exciting at first, to later fear and mistrust of his captor. As the film is in black and white, this unintentionally made this film more thrilling and almost hypnotic. With the tense atmosphere, the use of thunder and lightning also heightened your sense of danger for Peggy and her family. I wont spoil the final scenes for you but urge you to watch this movie. And that as the film draws to a close that you will be almost spellbound and then the final scene will come and it is dramatic.
Weeper Rating: 😦 /10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 /10
Hulk Rating: /10
Bonus Trailer: No
The John Garfield :The Original Rebel Blogathon, No 6
This was entered for the blogathon run by Phyllis Loves Classic Movies. I have no further reviews of this cast but The Poseidon Adventure is on my to watch list. Other film-noir movies include my reviews of John Wick, John Wick 2 and The Postman Always Rings Twice.